A Federal judge blocked Alabama’s vicious anti-immigrant law last week so as to further test the legality of the measure. A New Mexico judge has done the same for that State’s new law requiring law enforcement officers to check driver’s licenses.
It must be admitted frankly that illegal immigration is against the law. But any law which oppresses people like these do are unjust laws and deserve to be fought through with non-violent protest and citizen action.
Were they citizens, the undocumented could offer to serve prison time to dramatize the injustice of this treatment of what are often people of color in America. But they cannot because they would not be allowed to peacefully remain. So the rest of us must carry the fight for them and offer sanctuary and aid to all who have need of it.
The overwhelming majority of undocumented workers and residents of the United States have been with us and in fact a part of “us” for a long time. Many of their children know this nation as their home. It is their home. These people want to work, raise a family, and they obey the laws in every other case just as much as legal United States citizens do.
The task facing the nation in dealing with the undocumented is to find a way to offer citizenship without penalty to any who are here and want to stay and be United States citizens and take the oath of citizenship. Those that wish only a Green Card should obtain a Green Card and report their work site and residence from time-to-time. Several millions more ought to be permitted to enter the country as documented and legal migrants. Beyond that, legitimate means of border enforcement can be employed.
Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latino immigrants documented and undocumented are strengthening the United States as never before. The frenzy to rid the nation of them is part of a long-term pattern of nativist fear-mongering regarding any new group of immigrants to America. We’ve come so far from the poetic sentiment of “give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses” to a point where a leading minister has suggested the Statue of Liberty, long a symbol of the immigrant’s quest for a better life is really some sort of demonic symbol.
The undocumented make this nation move and pulse with life and vitality right along with the rest of us. Isn’t it time to simply recognize them as fellow Americans or guest workers who are good people deserving of good treatment?
The Christian scripture teaches us to welcome the stranger. We are to give water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothing, shelter, visit those imprisoned: in short to love them as we love ourselves. Christ’s final and serene command upon ascending to heaven was that we are to love one another.
These prescriptive State laws that are so discriminatory towards undocumented persons and such an injustice toward humanity that we are staring in the face of a central civil rights struggle for our times. It is a fundamental issue of human rights: the decency of humanity over the inhumanity that tragically can come from our one set of human beings toward another.